Trainer Nancy Johansson might keep an eye on the racing in Canada on Saturday night, but her primary focus will be on her own horse at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Johansson's Western Vintage, one of the most highly regarded 3-year-old male pacers in North America, is the 3-5 morning line favorite in his division's $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship at the Big M. Sire Stakes crowns also will be handed out to 3-year-old female pacers, female trotters, and male trotters.
If all goes well for Western Vintage, after the sire stakes final he will head to Canada's Mohawk Racetrack for the North America Cup eliminations June 7. The $1 million North America Cup final is June 14.
The final Canadian prep races for the North America Cup, three divisions of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, also are Saturday night. The first division will go to the gate approximately 30 minutes after Western Vintage's race at the Meadowlands.
"We'll be watching, but really the most important thing is that my horse does his work,” said Johansson, who trains Western Vintage for owners Perry Soderberg and Marvin Katz. "I think I have the best one, so I just need to worry about him and let the others worry about themselves. I can only control what happens with my horse anyway, I can't control anything with the others.”
A son of Western Ideal out of the mare Major Harmony, Western Vintage was purchased by Soderberg for $7,000 as a yearling at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale.
Last season, he won five of eight races and earned $316,838. His victories included the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile. He finished second in the $648,850 Metro Pace at Mohawk.
Western Vintage started his 2014 season by winning the opening round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 17. He sat out last weekend's second round, which was won by Doo Wop Hanover.
"So far I can't complain about anything with him,” Johansson said. "He's sound and happy and doing his work well. We're where we want to be with him at this point.”
In the New Jersey Sire Stakes final for 3-year-old male trotters, Trixton is the 3-5 favorite thanks to winning the Simpson Memorial in a season-best 1:51.2 and exploding in the stretch to win the first sire stakes leg by 4 3/4 lengths with a :26.2 last quarter-mile over a sloppy track.
Trixton is trained by Jimmy Takter, who is Johansson's father. Takter also has the 8-5 favorite in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old filly pacers, Gettingreadytoroll. And he has the 5-2 second choice in the sire stakes final for 3-year-old filly trotters, Moonlight In Miami. Julie Miller-trained Cee Bee Yes is the 2-1 choice. (HRC)